Match 17 Preview: NorthEast look to continue unbeaten start to campaign against SC East Bengal

SC East Bengal will target their first points and win in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 when they face NorthEast United FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday. The Kolkata giants haven’t had the best of starts to life in the Hero ISL and are yet to find the back of the net after two games. NorthEast, on the other hand, are unbeaten after three games having registered a win and two draws.

The Highlanders have surprised many neutrals with their start to the campaign. After beating Mumbai City FC, they held Kerala Blasters FC and FC Goa to draws. Needless to say, they will fancy their chances of registering their second win of the season against an SC East Bengal side that will be low on confidence.

Key to NorthEast’s successes so far has been their defensive organization. The centre-back pairing of Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox seems to have developed a very good understanding. The duo’s solid presence at the back has given the Highlanders a strong foundation to build on.

Their midfield has also impressed with the likes of Khassa Camara and Lalengmawia producing Hero of the Match performances in two of their three games this season. Lalengmawia, in fact, became the youngest captain in the history of the league in NorthEast’s last outing and the talented youngster, who has been tipped for a bright future by head coach Gerard Nus, will be looking to go from strength to strength in Hero ISL 2020-21.

Up front, Idrissa Sylla has looked a threat whenever he’s been on the pitch. The Guinean striker is NorthEast’s top-scorer this season with two goals and has decent support from the likes of Luis Machado and Kwesi Appiah, who scored the winner for NorthEast in their season opener against Mumbai.

"I am very happy with the performance of these two players [Khassa Camara and Lalengmawia]. I believe they bring a lot to the team in many ways. Defending is one of those areas but also with the ball. Outside of this, they also bring a lot to the changing room. Lalengmawia was obviously the captain in our last match and I was so pleased with his performance," NorthEast United head coach Nus said at the pre-match press conference.

SC East Bengal, meanwhile, can take heart from the fact that both their losses so far have come against strong opposition in ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC. That said, NorthEast won’t be an easy side to play against as Mumbai can attest for.

The Kolkata club, though, need to be more solid defensively after shipping three goals in their last match. With skipper Daniel Fox being an injury concern, it will be up to Scott Neville to organize their backline. Their fullbacks are also an area of concern and must do better than in their previous two games.

With players like Matti Steinmann and Anthony Pilkington in midfield, it’s safe to say that they aren’t short on talent in the middle of the park. However, a lack of cohesion has worked towards their defeats and must be addressed soon if SC East Bengal are expecting a change in fortunes.

Their forwards must do better as well. Jacques Maghoma has gotten into good areas from midfield but the killer touch in the final third continues to elude him. He will be hoping to do better in that regard on Saturday along with the likes of Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua as SC East Bengal look to do away with the unwanted tag of being the only side yet to score this season.

“We have a few injuries and a few players not available. In terms of our philosophy, we have something that we believe in. We have a way of playing and we will continue to play that way. Obviously, we will respect the opponents 100% but we will play our way. Sometimes it’s about what we can do. Maybe it’s about stopping our individual errors and silly mistakes. That’s why we need to concentrate a little bit more not just as individuals but as a group as well,” SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler said at the pre-match press conference.

Squads:

NorthEast United FC

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Nikhil Deka, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy

Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Rakesh Pradhan, Wayne Vaz

Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Gogoi, Rochharzela

Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Kwesi Appiah, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair Vadakkepeedika

SC East Bengal

Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Sankar Roy, Mirshad Michu, Rafique Ali

Defenders: Samad Mallick, Abhishek Ambekar, Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Narayan Das, Mohamad Irshad, Gurtej Singh, N Rohen Singh, Lalramchullova, Rana Gharami, Anil Chawan

Midfielders: Sehnaj Singh, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wahengbam Luwang, Bikash Jairu, Yumnam Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meitei, Mohammed Rafique, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Anthony Pilkington, Milan Singh, Haobam Singh

Forwards: Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth, Girik Khosla, Harmanpreet Singh

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 17: NorthEast United FC vs SC East Bengal

Date: December 5 (Saturday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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